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Cablegate: Pao Discusses Coverage of Anti-Terror Campaign with Senior Communist Party Press Official

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

150917Z Nov 01

2001HANOI02985 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ7589

PAGE 01 HANOI 02985 01 OF 02 150919Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 A-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00
SRPP-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01
DCP-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 PA-00 PC-01 PM-00
PRS-00 P-00 SP-00 TEST-00 IAP-00 USIE-00 R-00
IIP-00 PMB-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 SAS-00 /007W
------------------3E8A4B 150920Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4691
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002985

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/PD MSPEER, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/PA
HO CHI MINH CITY FOR PAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PROP OIIP VM CWG PD CTERR
SUBJECT: PAO DISCUSSES COVERAGE OF ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN WITH SENIOR COMMUNIST PARTY PRESS OFFICIAL

REF: HANOI 2834

1. THE HANOI PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER PAID A VISIT NOVEMBER
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02985 01 OF 02 150919Z
14 TO COMMUNIST PARTY HEADQUARTERS TO DISCUSS WITH DR. VU
DUY THONG, DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JOURNALISM AND
PUBLISHING OF THE CENTRAL COMMISSION FOR IDEOLOGY AND
CULTURE, THE VIETNAMESE MEDIA'S HANDLING OF POST-SEPTEMBER
11 EVENTS. ALSO PRESENT WERE MR. QUE LIEM, VICE DIRECTOR OF
NEWSPAPER PUBLICATION, MS. MAI Y VAN, SPECIALIST, AND MS.
NGUYEN THI QUYEN, SPECIALIST. THE TONE OF THE ONE-HOUR
MEETING WAS CORDIAL.

2. THE PAO SAID THAT THE U.S. APPRECIATED ACTIONS TAKEN BY
VIETNAM IN SUPPORT OF THE ANTI-TERROR CAMPAIGN, INCLUDING
ENHANCEMENT OF EMBASSY SECURITY, NAME CHECKS AT IMMIGRATION
CHECKPOINTS, AND INSTRUCTIONS TO BANKS TO SEARCH FOR ASSETS
BELONGING TO TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS. AT THE SAME TIME, THE
U.S. IS CONCERNED THAT MEDIA COVERAGE IN VIETNAM, WHILE
DRAWING ON WESTERN WIRE SERVICE AND TELEVISION REPORTS, HAS
TENDED SELECTIVELY TO OVERPLAY STORIES OF CIVILIAN
CASUALTIES BASED ON TALIBAN CLAIMS, AND HAS GIVEN A
MISLEADING IMPRESSION, ESPECIALLY IN HEADLINES, THAT SMALL
PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS IN SOME COUNTRIES AGAINST COALITION
MILITARY ACTION REPRESENT A MAJORITY OPINION ("WORLD REJECTS
MILITARY CAMPAIGN"). THE PAO ASKED THAT THE VIETNAMESE
MEDIA TAKE MORE CARE TO PRESENT A BALANCED PICTURE AND TO
CREDIT THE U.S. AND ITS PARTNERS WITH SEEKING TO AVOID
CIVILIAN CASUALTIES WHENEVER POSSIBLE, IN CONTRAST WITH OUR
AL-QAEDA FOES, WHO DELIBERATELY TARGET CIVILIANS, AND THEIR
TALIBAN PROTECTORS.

3. DR. THONG STATED THAT UNDER THE VIETNAMESE PRESS LAW,
THE MEDIA ARE UNDER STATE MANAGEMENT BUT "FREE"; EACH EDITOR-
IN-CHIEF MAY DECIDE WHAT TO COVER AND HOW, BUT IS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 02985 01 OF 02 150919Z
RESPONSIBLE FOR OBSERVING THE LAW. HAVING NO CORRESPONDENT
IN REMOTE AND UNFAMILIAR AFGHANISTAN, THE VIETNAMESE MEDIA
RELY LARGELY ON WESTERN WIRE SERVICES, CNN, AND OTHER
FOREIGN NEWS SOURCES FOR THEIR REPORTING. THE VIETNAMESE
VALUE HUMAN LIFE HIGHLY, AND HAVE SUFFERED MUCH IN PAST
WARS, HE NOTED. THEY ARE COMMITTED TO FIGHTING TERRORISM,
BUT WANT TO DO SO WITHOUT CAUSING HARM TO INNOCENT LIVES OR
HUNGER AMONG THE POPULATION. VIETNAM TOO IS A VICTIM OF
TERRORISM, HE SAID, REFERRING TO RECENT INCIDENTS OF BOMBS
PLANTED BY EXPATRIATE VIETNAMESE AT VIETNAMESE EMBASSIES IN
SOUTHEAST ASIA (WHICH CAUSED NO CASUALTIES). HE CALLED FOR
GREATER INFORMATION EXCHANGE TO COUNTERACT THE NEGATIVE
PICTURE OF VIETNAM PAINTED IN THE WEST BY EMBITTERED EXILES
AND A FEW JOURNALISTS. HE OBSERVED THAT PAS HO CHI MINH
CITY WAS "PERMITTED" THAT MORNING TO HOLD A DIGITAL VIDEO
CONFERENCE WITH A U.S. EXPERT ON TERRORISM FOR LOCAL
EDITORS.

4. THE PAO RESPONDED THAT THE WAR ON TERRORISM DID NOT
BEGIN ON SEPTEMBER 11, BUT DATES BACK AT LEAST TO THE FIRST
WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMBING OF 1993; ALSO, OSAMA BIN LADEN
AND HIS ACCOMPLICES WERE UNDER INDICTMENT FOR THE TWO
EMBASSY BOMBINGS IN EAST AFRICA. THE U.S. HAD TRIED BY NON-
MILITARY MEANS SINCE LONG BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11 TO PERSUADE
THE TALIBAN TO HAND OVER BIN LADEN TO FACE JUSTICE. WHEN AL-
QAEDA, WHICH WE KNOW HAS BEEN SEEKING WEAPONS OF MASS
DESTRUCTION, PERPETRATED ITS BRUTAL SEPTEMBER ATTACK ON THE
U.S., THE WORLD HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO FIGHT BACK AND DEFEAT
THIS THREAT, OR FACE THE IMMINENT POSSIBILITY OF EVEN WORSE
ATROCITIES. WITH DR. THONG'S INFLUENTIAL ROLE REGARDING THE
MEDIA, THE PAO HOPED THAT HE WOULD ENCOURAGE EDITORS TO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 02985 01 OF 02 150919Z
CONSIDER THE WHOLE PICTURE AND BALANCE THEIR COVERAGE AND
COMMENTARY FAIRLY. FOR EXAMPLE, THEY SHOULD NOT
UNCRITICALLY ACCEPT TALIBAN CASUALTY CLAIMS AND SHOULD
CLEARLY REPORT THE EMPHATICALLY REPEATED U.S. POLICY NOT TO
TARGET CIVILIANS. AS FOR HUNGER IN AFGHANISTAN, THE U.S.
HAS DONE AND CONTINUES TO DO MORE THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY TO
FEED THE AFGHAN PEOPLE. REGARDING VIETNAM'S CLAIM TO BE A
VICTIM OF TERRORISM, THE PAO SAID HE WAS GLAD THAT U.S. LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WERE ABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ARREST
IN SOUTHEAST ASIA OF SUSPECTS IN THE RECENT INCIDENTS, AND
TO ARREST ONE OF THEM IN CALIFORNIA.

5. THE PAO DEPARTED AFTER OFFERING TO SEND ALL FOUR PARTY
OFFICIALS OUR LATEST INFORMATION IN VIETNAMESE ON THE ANTI-
TERRORISM CAMPAIGN.

6. COMMENT: IN THE WORLD OF VIETNAM'S IDEOLOGICALLY
CONTROLLED MEDIA, DR. THONG, HIS STAFF, AND HIS SUPERIORS
ARE THE ULTIMATE GATEKEEPERS. WHEN HE TALKS, EDITORS
LISTEN. IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHETHER HE WILL ELECT TO
STEER THEM TO A LESS SKEPTICAL VIEW OF THE ANTI-TERRORISM
CAMPAIGN AND THE U.S. ROLE IN IT. AN APPARENT SHIFT IN THE
LAST DAY OR TWO AWAY FROM SOME OF THE HARSHER TONES IN
VIETNAM'S MEDIA COVERAGE MIGHT OWE SOMETHING TO THE DESIRE
TO AVOID SIDING WITH A LOSER AFTER THE PRECIPITOUS MILITARY
COLLAPSE OF THE TALIBAN. END COMMENT.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 02985 02 OF 02 150920Z

7. BIOGRAPHIC NOTE: DR. THONG, WHO APPEARS TO BE ABOUT
FIFTY YEARS OLD, SAID THAT HE HAD STUDIED IN RUSSIA FOR
THREE YEARS, BUT DID NOT RESPOND IN KIND WHEN ADDRESSED IN
RUSSIAN. HE SAID HE ALSO SPENT SEVERAL YEARS IN CHINA. HE
SPEAKS LITTLE ENGLISH.
PORTER

UNCLASSIFIED

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